Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hippity Hop (to the Candy Shop)

Are you ready for some October fun? My K-1 students are! Here is a nursery rhyme that allows them to work on steady beat and pitch-matching skills, while singing about one of their favorite things: candy.

We sang "Macaroni" last week, which included singing solos, galloping on a stick pony, and playing a steady beat bordun on xylophones. You can read about "Macaroni" here. It was the first time for my kindergarten students to play the barred instruments. Therefore, I wanted to continue working on the steady beat bordun this week while continuing to focus on the singing voice, and "Hippity Hop" seemed like the perfect lesson choice.

Following some vocal warm-up activities, I displayed the following PowerPoint visual for the students to read while they learned the song:
Jeff & Randy have an arrangement of this song in the first grade GamePlan. (If you do not have this book, I highly recommend it!) They use only "sol" and "mi" for the melody, which is perfectly fine. However, I find that my students naturally add "la" in certain places, and I sometimes I get tired of fighting that battle. I really love the question and answer they added to the poem. The teacher sings, "What's your favorite candy?" and a soloist answers, "I like _____."
Of course, I rarely follow a lesson plan exactly. So, although I found this wonderful song and lesson idea in GamePlan, the activity has evolved and changed over time. My lessons seem to vary from class to class, depending on student suggestions and where the class leads based on what they seem ready to do. Sometimes an idea comes to me right in the middle of an activity that I think will improve the lesson.

In addition to adding "la" to the melody, I also did something different with the question at the end of the song. Since we have done a lot of solo-singing in our classroom microphone, I felt that my students could take over the teacher solo. Instead of me asking the question, I let one student sing the question and another student answer.  We turned it into a circle game and added two xylophones to the mix to practice playing the steady beat.

Students sat in a circle, and the student who was "it" walked around carrying a Hershey's Kiss pillow that I happen to already have. The child also held a microphone that is part of our classroom amplification system. He/she skipped around the circle (or hopped) while the class sang and played the beat on their legs. The leader stopped at the end of the song and dropped the Hershey's Kiss into a friend's lap. The first student sang the question, then handed the mic to the seated student who sang the answer. One thing that is helpful for younger students is to pause before the game starts and let children think about what candy they want to sing about when it is their turn. It helps for them to have an answer ready.
Next, students rotated to a new job: "It" moved to xylophone 1 to play the steady beat bordun, and the chosen student became "It." After the next round, the student at xylophone 1 moved to xylophone 2, etc.

I had one first grade class that was more advanced, so I tried a different option. I allowed half the class to move to the barred instruments to accompany the rest of the class while they played the game. They even wanted to rotate through the instruments after each turn. Some classes would not handle that many different activities at once, but they did a beautiful job. After everyone in the circle had a turn, the groups switched jobs.

There was just one problem I had while teaching this lesson. When I was giving an example of how to sing an answer to the question, I had a hard time picking just one favorite candy. I guess a teacher should like Smarties, but Pay Days are always nice!


  1. I am a huge fan of the GamePlan curriculum, too! It is wonderful!

  2. Just started using Game Plan this year and so far so good.

    I tried the original lesson with my Firsties today and they got a little bored singing it 18 times. So I'm going to add your idea of the xylophones to it tomorrow and see if that helps keep them engaged.

    My Kinders LOVED the "Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater" from the K book. It's similar to this.

    1. Gwenn,
      I experimented a little and found a good balance was to let my first graders move to the back row of instruments after they sang the solo. I have 6 xylophones on that row, so they rotated to the next instrument each time, and then they returned to the circle. That gave them enough turns to play and also left enough students in the circle to play the game.

      The Hershey's Kiss pillow also added a bit of fun. Janet has a Jolly Rancher pillow that she found. Any kind of soft toy would work, though - even a stuffed bunny, since it says "Hippity hop."

      I hope that adding the instruments helped hold your children's interest. Let me know how it worked.


  3. Laura: Would LOVE to see how your set up your music room. I'm in a portable (aka double wide trailer) with No built in storage. Even though I've been in the room for 4 years, I have yet to find a good arrangement to accommodate my 18 orff instruments as well as everything else! Space is ok with my little classes of 18 K-2ers but when I get to my big kids, we start to get tight.